eCommerce is undoubtedly an important sector. It is growing at an alarming pace and customer habits are changing in order to take advantage of the value of eCommerce, whatever each customer feels to be most important to them.
That said, eCommerce is still no where close to what it can be.
eCommerce still suffers from a traditional model whereby an on-line retailer provides goods or services through an online screen or online shop window with a logistical element thrown in order to solve the physical retail aspect that may be missing or bypassed on a transaction. Fine, eCommerce is born, alive and healthy, yet is still suffers from the fact that it is new or unstructured, or simply that the opportunities that eCommerce offers have not been taken advantage of.
Let us talk about shopping, or more specifically, on-line fashion retail. There are two types of shopping, the “let me look around” or “window shop” and the “I need to buy tight blue jeans for a party I have next week that match my shoes and new shirt”. How easy is it to do either?
Getting to a site is normally achieved through four medium, Google, Social Media, email or by remembering the URL. Each medium delivers a communication channel for customers but which ones work? All but differently most say, but why is this? And what are the challenges at a higher level?
Google knows best. Google is king. Is it? The problem with Google is that it will give you the result based on keywords and the SEO performance and not necessarily what you are looking for. Say I need to buy black smart trousers for work, typing that into Google will give many options but which one shall I click? Which offer good customer service? Do I need to open 20 tabs in order to find a respectable site? Am I getting the best deal? Who buys from this shop? Do I buy trousers based on the performance of their SEO team? Does Google rank according to quality of the outlet’s products/customer service? If so, (it doesn’t), what if I want something cheap and cheerful?
Google is not geared up for eCommerce. It is excellent at delivering the right information but search, as we know it today, is not designed to deliver results on eCommerce items.
Social Media, the saviour and answer to all our problems. Again, not really. Social Media gives on-line business the opportunity to manage and organise referrals as well as develop customer relationships in mass. But still, as a medium, it is unstructured. To use the same example, should I need to buy black trousers, I would need to wait for a post from a friend that talks about my requirement, and that may deliver the eCommerce site I need.
Email is an excellent tool though works with two things – you must have the customer’s details and you need to suggest or titillate the customer into affecting a purchase. Doing it effectively will obviously deliver results. Though, when planning a purchase, this often fails. Nobody looks through emails to see whether an email in your inbox will have the items you require.
Remembering the URL
Probably the greatest let down of the internet. Remembering a 6 to 8 digit phone number is a challenge for me. Asking to remember how to spell the latest eCommerce shops with their new and wacky names – impossible. The result is normally that a consumer will remember two or three URLs and directly go to those outlets. However, as a customer, are you getting the most value out of the shopping spree? Should you have gone through a different outlet? Are you shopping from the wrong place because you don’t know better? Are you buying items from one store because of mere wrist and finger laziness or are you worried of getting lost in the eCommerce abyss.
eCommerce will only grow and that growth will bring more opportunity, more value, more choice, more competition, more flexibility, more logistical challenges, and most definitely a more complex experience where the feeling of being lost may be more common.
How do you shop? Do you worry about not getting the best deal? Are you always shopping from the same outlets because experimenting is too risky?
Do you struggle to find what you are looking for on-line?
Is it just me? :)